Monday, August 21, 2006

A Hair-raising day for Pakistan cricket

The fourth Test between England and Pakistan has been forfeited in favour of England, after an extraordinary incident that brought the game to the brink of one of the biggest crisis in recent memory.

The notion of cricket being the gentleman's game has been a lie ever since WG Grace first replaced his bails upon being bowled.

Tampering with a cricket ball isn't a new phenomenon but it was only in late 2000 that the ICC decided to impose a five-run penalty if any side was found guilty of altering the condition of the ball.

Darrel Hair, one of the onfield empires is at the centre of a huge controversy. This is a man who has allowed controversy to stalk his every waking hour, from the no-ballings of Muttiah Muralitharan and Shoaib Akhtar to the run-out decision he gave against Inzamam at Faisalabad this winter.

The initial incident took place in the 56th over, when umpires Hair and Doctrove deemed that the quarter seam on the ball had been raised and would therefore have to be changed. This was deemed ball tempering; in other words Pakistan team cheated.

But the situation only really kicked off after tea, as the Pakistanis remained in their dressing-room in protest at the decision.

Hair's decision was unsubstatiated; it appears Hair has given way to his ego way beyond the larger interest of what is good for the game.

Inzamam should have protested immediately when Hair decided to change the ball, alleging ball tempering.

According to Cricinfo, of all the Pakistan series to have taken place in England since the start of the 1980s, this had been by a country mile the most harmonious.

What a shame that such a series has to come to this end. Pakistan have strenuously denied the ball tempering charge and whatever punishment that is meted out to the laconic Inzamam (in the picture), one would think that this incident casts doubt on the cricket governing body, ICC's abilty to appoint more level-headed umpires, given the two umpires involved here are known to stalk controversy.

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